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Scouting Report: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

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Arsenal’s pursuit of a deadly striker is now over: The Gunners acquired the services of Gabonese Spider-man Aubameyang on deadline day. Are you excited?

Arsenal Unveil New Signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Are you praying for Pierre-Emerick to become the second Thierry Henry?
Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

I made three mistakes in the Gabonese international name, once typing it in the headline of this article. Can you spell it right from the first attempt?

The Winter transfer window is now closed, transfer budgets exhausted (except Newcastle’s) and most of the long-lasting transfer sagas are happily over (Riyad Mahrez being the agonizing exception).

Aubameyang’s transfer story has been everlasting, as his relations with the Schwarz-Gelben (black-yellow in German) management deteriorated completely. At certain stage he was heavily linked with the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona, but those stories never materialized into anything more than vapor-negotiations. He has now joined Arsenal on a “long-term contract” for a club-record fee (₤56M). Wow!

What a time it is to be a Gunners fan these days. Let’s rewind a month of January:

  • January 7: Crashing out of the FA Cup with a 2:4 defeat from Nottingham Forest
  • January 14: 1:2 defeat from Bournemouth after scoring first
  • January 22: The Alexis Sanchez swap deal with Manchester United is announced, bringing the Armenian international Henrikh Mkhitaryan to the Emirates
  • January 24: 2:1 victory on aggregate in the League Cup semifinal tie against Chelsea, while conceding first
  • January 30: 1:3 defeat at rock-bottom Swansea after scoring first
  • January 31: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang transfer from Borussia Dortmund is announced, and Mesut Ozil ends speculations by signing a long-term contract extension

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Player’s profile

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a 28-year-old Gabonese international. He was born in France (that is where he started kicking the ball) and even played for the Youth France U-21 team. He ended up selecting to represent Gabon to honor his father’s roots.

He was penciled by the Milan scouts in 2007, but never managed a single minute for the Italian giants. For the next three years he had been loaned across three different clubs in French League. In 2011 Saint-Etienne made his move permanent and he banged in 29 goals in 54 starts. He lasted two seasons there before attracting interest from Borussia Dortmund. He registered 144 caps with the club from a Ruhr valley, scoring 98 goals.

He is famous for his explosive speed, ability to score with both feet, and strong aerial presence. He is infamous for extraordinary hairstyle and crazy celebrations. Just check this yourself:

Throughout his career in Borussia Dortmund, he managed to play alongside Marco Reus, Robert Lewandowski, Mario Gotze, Shinji Kagawa, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ousmane Dembele. What stands out is the fact that he managed to form a deadly partnership with each of them. He stayed loyal while seeing his best partners join the ranks of Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Barcelona. On top, Aubameyang is not shy from scoring against Top opposition. Here are some numbers to prove it:

Season 2016/2017

  • 31 goals in 32 games in Bundesliga
  • Hat-trick in Champions League quarter-final against Benfica and two goals in two games against Real Madrid

Season 2017/2018

  • 13 goals in 16 games in Bundesliga
  • 5 goals in 3 games against Tottenham and Real Madrid (both in the Champions League) and Bayern Munich (in German Super Cup)

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Where does he fit in the Arsenal line-up?

He needs to be in a striker role. Period.

He is taller than Alexandre Lacazette, his touch is even more lethal, and he is lightning quick. Lacazette was forced to play deeper in his games, searching for the ball, and he did relatively well. He was even randomly pushed to the flank whenever Giroud was introduced. In the first eleven games this season, Lacazette scored six and assisted none. In the next 14 games he scored three and assisted four. The Frenchman is a more skillful passer, while he can also deliver a quality cross.

Obvious (to us) strategy is to play both, but Wenger’s historical playbook doesn’t favor this scenario, and I can’t see him going for this change in the middle of the season.

My vision is that Aubameyang plays upfront while Mkhitaryan takes a spot on the right. This pairing was a proven partnership of the season 2015/2016; the Gunners need to revive it. Ozil then takes his preferred, free-flowing number 10 role just behind the Gabonese. Lacazette can’t be benched, so will take the left flank. The likes of Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Jack Wilshere and Mohammed Elneny will rotate in deep midfield. What is your guess?

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FPL potential

Aubameyang was added to the pool today at £10.5. This price tag makes him the fourth most expensive forward in the game. While offering a frightening potential and a possibility of a great differential pick, you need to consider the Wenger-factor, price and fixtures of already-proven assets. Kevin de Bruyne is £10.2, Mohammed Salah £10.3 and Eden Hazard £10.7

Also consider:

  1. Arsenal have been extremely unstable this season, which makes selecting their players more of a gamble. Their next three games are tough: home games against Everton and Manchester City, then a trip to Wembley to face Tottenham. It eases up right after with only one more game against a Top Six side (GW 36 against Manchester United).
  2. When comparing him against similar-priced players, Aubameyang doesn’t stand-out either. Both De Bruyne and Salah are in a terrific form and can score against anyone. Assuming you are holding one more of the premium-priced players (for example Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero or Marcos Alonso), this puts Aubameyang purchase into a waiting mode, until the fixtures are right.
  3. Last but not least, as already indicated by Mkhitaryan and Lacazette, Arsene Wenger doesn’t like to rush things. He will do his best to ease Auba into his starting line-up. There’s no doubt about eventual his starting role, especially keeping in mind that he is ineligible to play for Arsenal in the Europa League. If you look at the Premier League table, you can get a feeling that Arsenal will need a miracle to get into the Top 4 this season. This means that they will need to repeat a Manchester United trick and win the European cup. With Aubameyang’s ineligibility there, his starting position in the league is all but assured.

My verdict: Wait until GW 29 when the Gunners travel to Brighton, and then bring him on. I doubt Wenger will rush him right into the starting eleven, though he may be tempted to do so, having in mind the Gunners’ horror-show in Wales. Aubameyang won’t be outscoring the League’s proven (Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero), so one or both are essential. You may need to part company with one of your premium mids to allow the Arsenal striker.

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What do you make of the Aubameyang transfer? Does he hold any chance to emulate Thierry Henry’s goal-scoring results? Are you bringing him on in your Fantasy Squad? Let us know your opinion in the comments and thank you for reading us as always!

Alexey